The China Study: What we love, what we don’t love
No celebrity stalking here
If you asked, I might divulge to you that I pride myself a little bit on being a confirmed non-celebrity-stalker. Alright fine, maybe I didn't wait for you to ask. Maybe I've been staying up late at night thinking of ways to work that little factoid into my daily conversations. Maybe I published it on my blog just now.
But the point is, I don't buy People or US Weekly, and when I page through those magazines at the hair salon, I don't recognize anyone under the age of 25. I hardly ever watch Behind the Music reruns. I don't really think celebrities, bless their shiny little hearts, are better than the rest of us. Call me crazy.
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves
Which is why it was a little weird last Thursday when this happened: I was at my usual gym, taking my usual Thursday morning class. Because I'm insanely fancy now and live in London and all, my class is taught by Dennis, who is, among other things I'm sure, one of Kate Hudson's personal trainers. You'd never hear it from him, of course, and I never find these things out on my own. That's what my girlfriends are for.
Anyway, on account of my double-jointedness and my good Jersey girl's inability to understand why I would ever want to keep my hips straight when they could be cocked, Dennis helped me out with my form on one of the exercises, which required him to touch my leg. No biggie, right? Right. Except my first thought when he did that went something like, "ZOMG HE TOUCHED MY LEG AND HE'S TOUCHED KATE HUDSON'S LEG AND KATE HUDSON IS SO FAMOUS AND I CAN'T EVEN STAND HOW FRIGGIN' FAMOUS I AM RIGHT NOW!!!!"
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.
T. Colin Campbell, PhD
You might wonder, and justifiably so, why I'm telling you this in a post about the decidedly un-shiny, though increasingly famous, T. Colin Campbell and his book The China Study. (I mean, technically he is a movie star now, but I don't think he's ever kissed Matthew McConaughey on screen or anything.) It's because I got a little crazy about The China Study there for a minute or three — all ZOMG Kate Hudon's leg, if you will — and I think I owe you a quick peek into my actual, more considered opinion of the book. The kind of opinion I form after reading until I can't find anything on the topic anywhere in the world to read anymore, and then thinking until the very moment before my head bursts into flames from thinking so much. You know, the kind of opinion I usually try to give you around here. It's slightly horrifying, but that's the kind of thing I do all the time now that I work for myself.
I'll keep it brief. Here goes.
What we like about The China Study
Advocates eating mostly unprocessed and minimally processed plant-based foods to achieve and maintain good health. Given all that science knows — and all it doesn't know — about the way we humans tick, I can't see how this could be wrong.
Focuses on the benefits of whole foods rather than isolated nutrients, and generally acknowledges the limits of our current knowledge about the complex ways in which whole foods are good for our bodies.
Provides the reader with a sense of capability and empowerment about achieving good health.
Offers a simple nutritional strategy in an overly complicated field.
Provides insight into the ass-crazy political, industrial, and academic forces that often dictate what the public learns and doesn't learn about nutrition.
What we don't like about The China Study
Demonizes animal protein to an extent that doesn't seem justified by any research presented in the book, or any other research I have encountered. Of course, I don't pretend to be a scientist of any kind, but damned if I don't stalk a lot of nutritional scientists. (Maybe that's why I don't have time to stalk celebrities?)
I can think of lots of health-related reasons to dramatically limit our intake of animal products compared to the way most Westerners eat today, including making caloric room for lots of plant-based foods; minimizing exposure to the berserk toxins that a century of industrial pollution has dumped into our soil and water; not putting our minds and bodies at the mercy of profit-seeking "food" producers who...oh...feed the ground-up bones of diseased cows to other cows (and farmed fish!); and, to be sure, not overindulging in a food source that humans have historically eaten WAY less of than we currently do.
But The China Study takes things one giant leap further and essentially blames the consumption of animal protein for the diseases of civilization. I'm not at all convinced that the evidence supports such a strong conclusion.
The China Study, on your terms
So. I hope you'll read The China Study, and I hope you'll do so with all of this in mind. I hope you'll stack your diet with vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds. I hope you will glow with the light of a thousand suns.
Back soon with more good humor and good advice on using delicious food to kick life's pansy ass.